CCLC charged with figuring out how to revitalize downtown |

CCLC charged with figuring out how to revitalize downtown

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen?s Commercial Core and Lodging Commission has been handed a daunting task: Come up with some ideas to revitalize downtown Aspen, and do it quickly.

The City Council met Tuesday with the CCLC to outline the assignment and ask members of the all-citizen commission if they were willing to take it on.

?We?ve all heard the complaints, we?ve seen the problems. Now it?s time to get to work,? said City Manager Steve Barwick.

?I think the question is, do you accept this assignment?? asked Mayor Helen Klanderud.

The commission agreed to tackle the mission. Its ranks will be augmented by Aspen Chamber Resort Association President Hana Pevney and four members of the Economic Sustainability Committee, which has been discussing ways to improve Aspen?s long-term economic viability.

The newly formed Downtown Improvement Group will hold its first meeting Thursday at 8 a.m. at the Main Street Bakery and Cafe, owned by CCLC chairman Bill Dinsmoor.

The group was directed to focus on ?physical improvements and events that will improve the downtown experience for everyone.? The core was defined as the area bounded by Main, Original, Dean and Aspen streets.

The council is looking for direction on what can be done immediately, in the near future and six months or more from now.

?I would love to have a report within two months about what can be done now,? Barwick said.

The group was directed to avoid getting bogged down in big issues, many of which are being addressed in other forums, like marketing, use of Aspen?s trolley cars and rezoning the downtown core.

The CCLC?s participation in the debate over how to spend the city?s marketing dollars, in fact, sidetracked yesterday?s discussion briefly.

?Are we in the woodshed, here?? asked member John Starr.

?Maybe a little,? Klanderud said.

The CCLC has suggested half of the city?s marketing fund, about $200,000, be used to hire a full-time special-events planner who would go after sponsorships to dovetail with new community events. Commission members hinted they would come before the council on Sept. 10 with their proposal, when the ACRA presents its plan to spend the marketing dollars.

?I?m not sure that?s an appropriate role for the CCLC ? to be an alternate recipient of those funds,? Klanderud said. ?If there is a competitive application for those funds, I think we need to know that now.?

The CCLC may make a recommendation on how the city spends its marketing money, Dinsmoor said. That doesn?t mean the commission will request the allocation come to them, he said.

?I would welcome their recommendation on how to spend those funds,? said Councilman Tim Semrau.

For the purposes of downtown revitalization, however, the council suggested the group focus on ideas and leave it up to the city to figure out how to fund them.

?Don?t tie your ideas to poaching someone else?s money. You?re just going to start a turf war,? Barwick warned.

As a first step, the council suggested the new group blow the dust off Phase 2 of the Downtown Enhancement Pedestrian Plan, which was never implemented, and review its recommendations.

?Don?t reinvent the wheel,? council members advised.

?The wheel?s been invented, we just need to roll it somewhere,? Semrau said.

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